Halloween is a great time to have fun with food. But many cooks prefer to forgo the gory treats, such as bloody eyeball truffles and toxic waste punch complete with floating “amputated” gummy fingers. We understand. So if you’re looking for more mild-mannered edibles, look no further. These cupcakes and pizzas are scrumptious, without being scary.

Halloween is a great time to have fun with food. But many cooks prefer to forgo the gory treats, such as bloody eyeball truffles and toxic waste punch complete with floating “amputated” gummy fingers.

We understand. So if you’re looking for more mild-mannered edibles, look no further. These cupcakes and pizzas are scrumptious, without being scary.

HOOT OWL CUPCAKES

1 (18.25-ounce) package butter recipe white cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Frosting ingredients:

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon milk

Decorations ingredients:

48 butter rum-flavored hard candies with holes
Milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds
24 whole cashews

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all cake ingredients except coconut in large bowl. Beat according to package directions. Gently stir in coconut. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 19 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Combine all frosting ingredients in medium bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

Frost cooled cupcakes. Place 2 butter rum candies on each cupcake for eyes. Dip bottoms of chocolate chips into frosting; place onto each candy circle to form center of eye. Arrange almonds above eyes for feathers. Add cashew for beak.

SMILING SCARECROW CUPCAKES 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 cups applesauce

Frosting ingredients:

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup half-and-half or whipping cream
1/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Decorations ingredients:

Pretzel squares
Cinnamon graham cracker sticks
Chow mein noodles or pretzel sticks
Mini candy-coated chocolate pieces, chocolate chips, decorator candies or decorator gels, as desired
Candy corn
Chocolate sprinkles or licorice candies

Heat oven to 350°F. Place paper baking cups into 18 muffin pan cups; set aside. Combine flour, baking soda and cinnamon in medium bowl; set aside. Combine sugar and 1/2 cup butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture and applesauce. Continue beating until well mixed.

Fill each muffin pan cup 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, half-and-half and 1/4 cup butter in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil (5 to 6 minutes). Cool 20 minutes; add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Cool completely.

To create scarecrow face, spread 1 heaping tablespoon frosting over 1 cupcake; place pretzel square onto cupcake to make top of hat. Place small amount of frosting on back side of graham cracker stick; place below pretzel to make hat band. Insert chow mein noodles into frosting around hat to resemble straw. Make face using assorted candies, chips or decorator gels. Repeat with remaining cupcakes and decorations.

Store in loosely covered container. Yield: 18 cupcakes.

MUMMY MINI PIZZAS

8 Rhodes Dinner Rolls, thawed to room temperature
1/3 cup pizza sauce
8 string cheese, sliced
Olives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray counter or cutting board lightly with nonstick cooking spray.  Flatten each roll into a 3- to 4-inch circle. Place on a sprayed baking sheet. Top each one with about 2 teaspoons pizza sauce. Poke each one several times with a fork to prevent bubbles from forming. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

While pizzas are baking, tear 1 string cheese for each pizza into thin strips. Remove pizzas from oven and place 2 olive slices on each for eyes. Layer cheese strips in random fashion to resemble mummy bandages. Return to oven and bake an additional 1-2 minutes to melt cheese slightly.

-- Rhodes

HAPPY JACK PIZZA

8 Rhodes Dinner Rolls, thawed and risen
1/3 cup pizza sauce
1/2 pound ground sausage, cooked and drained
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 green pepper
Salami or pepperoni slices
Sliced olives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray counter or cutting board lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Combine rolls together and roll into a 13-inch oval pumpkin shape. Place on a sprayed baking sheet. Top with pizza sauce, sausage and cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven and decorate like a Jack-O-Lantern using green pepper strips, salami and sliced olives. Make a stem out of green pepper and place on the top. Return to oven and bake an additional 5-10 minutes.

-- Rhodes

The Repository (Canton, Ohio)